Driving Test

Read this module OUT LOUD as a couple:

Today we are going to continue working on laying the foundation of our Communication Highway. We are going to take a few test drives and see if you are ready to have a Relationship Driver’s License!


Driving Tests:

Test 1: Your partner thinks you are cheating so they grab your cell phone and start going through your messages. What would you do/say?

Test 2: Your partner comes home sloppy drunk after a night out with friends and you have a large family gathering coming to your house the next morning. How do you handle the issue?

Test 3: Your Partner gets dressed up to go for a night out with friends and puts on what you feel is a revealing outfit and lots of perfume/cologne. How would you handle the situation?

Test  4: Your Partner buys a $150 Christmas gift for you. Your rent is due in 3 days and you won’t have enough to cover rent now. What would you do/say?

So how do you think you will do on your driving tests?

Talk through each test.

There are many tests that come our way each week. It’s our job to be READY to pass those tests in a moment’s notice. We usually get very little notice when life tests pop up!  If a couple does not have a firm foundation of communication to handle these “Life tests” that come their way, it’s like driving on a highway with a “Bridge Out” sign up ahead.



Let’s look at some of the possible “Roadblocks” to good communication:

1.Hot topics: Each person has their own Red Flags that tend to cause them to immediately stop listening. Examples: Money, religion, Democrat/Republican, child support, how many hours they are working, football, “Chic Flick,” etc. Once someone brings that topic up you stop listening. What are your hot topics?

2.Time Warp: Did you know that we think FOUR times faster than people speak! That’s a lot of lag time for our brain to “wander” as people are speaking. It takes EFFORT to stay tuned in and be an active listener. Actively listening send a loud message that we care and value the other person.

3.Brain Drain: “I have no idea what they are even talking about so I won’t even try to listen”

4.My Way or the Highway thinking: “No one is going to boss me around. We do things my way or not at all.” “I want to make sure no one is going to “control” me–so I’ll accomplish that by trying to control everyone around me.”

5.Blame Game: “This is all your fault!”

6.Unrealistic Expectations: “My partner will always be happy,” “Everyone will see life the same way I do,” “My family will always be perfect,” “Life will always go just as planned,” or “People will do what I tell them to do.”

Which ones of the roadblocks above are you most likely to do?


Let’s look at an example:

Nancy the Navigator:

nancy-the-navigatorNancy the Navigator and her husband Nick go on what they have planned to be their Dream Vacation which they have been planning all year. However, their GPS is not working as planned, so Nancy the Navigator is having to use a paper map to help her husband find the way to the hotel. As they are driving, Nancy says “go left, no wait, go right!” and Nick explodes and tells her “she is the most horrible Navigator he has ever met!”

By the time they finally make it to the hotel…they are ready to turn around and go home! What’s the fun of a VACATION if you take your fussing and fighting with you?

So what went wrong? Did they have realistic expectations going into the vacation? Did they work together as a team? Did the use any good communication skills? Was Nancy purposely trying to make Nick angry?

Let’s review the Healthy Communication Formula we learned. Being a good listener benefits you in every area of your life!

Speaker’s Rules:

-Speak for yourself (I statements)

-Don’t go on and on

-Stop and let the listener paraphrase


   Listener’s Rules:

-Paraphrase what you hear

Don’t tell your side yet or give rebuttals


Paraphrasing Versus Rebuttals

Let’s review Paraphrasing.:

Speaker:  ”Josh needs to get in Karate-it will be good for his self-esteem.”

Which would YOU rather hear in response…a Rebuttal or a Paraphrase?

Rebuttal: “Your constantly adding new activities to the kid’s schedule because you aren’t the one who has to drive them everywhere!”


Paraphrase: “Hmm…so you feel like putting Josh in Karate would help his self-esteem go up?”


Which one would you want to hear? Which one was Combative and which one was Cooperative?


When we are able to validate what our partner is saying (sending the Fax confirmation page back to them to LET THEM KNOW that you heard their message) by paraphrasing it back to them, their guard can go down. To operate as a team, we need everyone to lower their guard. Active listening allows your partner to lower their guard and it keeps the flow of information flowing along the Communication Highway!!

One of the reasons counseling is typically effective for many people, is because for the first time people really feel HEARD.

It is not the same thing to say “I HEARD you already!” (Now stop nagging me!)

When you paraphrase it back, they know you really were listening to their side of the story and that you understand their point of view. Again, no one likes to go FIRST in being the good listener and that is what prolongs a lot of arguments.

Be patient, listen to your partner, send the message back to confirm you heard them—-THEN you can be the speaker and give your thoughts/your side of the story.

Have you been practicing this?

Have you ever thrown a fit because everything didn’t go as planned? Can you guess how many children have CRIED on their birthday? I bet the number is high. It’s all about unrealistic expectations. They had been planning how very “perfect” the day would be all year long. Everyone would be so nice them and happily serve them. They will get every gift they have been dreaming of. All of the attention will be on them every minute of the day. And then the big day arrives. Big surprise, with expectations that high, inevitably something does not live up their dreams and they end up crying on what should be the happiest day of the year.

We have to be flexible and able to “go with the flow” if we are going to be successful in relationships. Let’s say you are on vacation and you get lost like Nancy the Navigator did. Do you flip out? Do you panic? What is the likelihood that you will NEVER find your way there? Very slim right? Your expectation was that you would be able to go directly to the hotel. Well, life is unpredictable. A tantrum or yelling at your partner for being a “terrible navigator” will just ruin your trip. You have to be able to “talk yourself DOWN” when things don’t go as planned.

Most people just want to feel HEARD and have their feelings validated by someone. When you fulfill that role for them, you become the Hero instead of their competitor.

Paraphrasing is not hard. Just send back to them what you heard them say. Just acknowledge their message. That’s it. Don’t complicate it.

Everyone enjoys spending time with someone who is a great Active Listener!

Keep practicing being an Active Listener!


Go through each of the four “Driving Tests” that were given at the beginning of this session and tell what you would say or do to handle the situation. Practice using good communication.


Try using our healthy communication formula:

When: _________________________ (insert event in matter-of-fact way)

I feel: __________________________ (insert secondary emotion)

It would help me if: _______________ (brainstorm possible solutions)

Talk through each test using our Healthy Communication Formula below:

Test 1: Cheating

Test 2: Drunk Partner

 Test 3: Revealing Outfit

 Test 4: Christmas gift


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